Smartphone games can potentially improve mental well-being: Study


HEALTH | Sept 04, 2020:

There have been numerous theories on the negative effect of technology as it causes stress or anxiety; however, researchers have found that a smartphone game can potentially improve mental well-being.

In a recent study, researchers said that turning mobile mental health intervention into a smartphone game improves resilience, a key character trait that reduces the susceptibility to depression, stress and anxiety.

"eQuoo (the gamified intervention app) was able to show that it not only had a significant and beneficial impact on the participant's mental wellbeing," said study authors from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.

"But that gamifying therapies counterbalances sky-high attrition rates most mental health apps struggle with, especially in the demographic of 18-35-year-olds," they added.

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Mobile mental health apps have the potential to act as interventions for depression and anxiety, but their effectiveness appears limited with studies showing that individuals do not stick with the routine for long periods.

To improve their effectiveness, the authors proposed turning intervention content into a game that includes levels that need passing, feedback, points, and other gaming elements. A five-week randomised control trial was completed by 358 participants who were assigned to one of three groups: gamified intervention app, normal intervention app, and waitlisted with no app.

Resilience and anxiety were measured by self-report surveys at three-time points. The authors found that after five weeks, both measures were significantly better in the game group than in either of the other groups.

A gamified mental health intervention app that retains user interest and improves resilience could maximise the benefits of mobile intervention by helping to prevent depression and anxiety.